Bush – The Art of Survival (Album Review)

bush the art of survival album review

Bush – The Art of Survival 
Released: October 7, 2022

Line Up

Gavin Rossdale // Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Chris Traynor // Lead Guitar
Corey Britz // Bass, Backing Vocals
Nik Hughes // Drums

Online

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The island of relevancy can be a lonely place. Whilst few of the millions of bands around the world would turn their nose up at commercial and artist notoriety, it’s a hard slog being known for a decades-old hit/s as part of a popular ‘scene’ and then continuing to tour, write, record and release music in an industry that has moved onto the new thing. Radio aren’t that interested in new material though, if you’re lucky there’s a core fan base that remains dedicated to what you have to say. Bush have been to the post-grunge island of relevance, and had a decent stay with their hit albums Sixteen Stone and Razorblade Suitcase. I remember when rock was all over every radio station and Bush were a huge part of the landscape, with their songs appearing in teen movies as a literal soundtrack to the late 90s. Fast forward to 2022  and whilst we know rock music is still cool as fuck, it’s not easy to get noticed having left the island behind for open waters. Post-grunge in particular gets a bad rap, though watching fans flock to the Under the Southern Stars festival tour earlier this year demonstrated that there’s still a thirst out there for big riffs and killer melodic hooks. So let me speak plainly now: the new Bush album, The Art of Survival, fucking rocks. 

It’s the riffs that do it. Just one after the other. Radio is going to complain that this is too heavy but what the hell do they know? It’s too dense for TikTok but this is music that was built for the stage. Gavin Rossdale is still a sexy frontman with a great set of pipes who can make a crowd move and swoon and groove. This time he is backed by an almighty set of riffs. I mean it’s genuinely ridiculous. If all you know of Bush is ‘Glycerine’ (great song, don’t knock it), then cue up ‘Heavy is the Ocean’ and get the head explode emoji ready. Actually here it is for you, pop it on and take that guitar in. 

How’s that? Stoner/Sabbath stuff right? Yeah badass. Cool bass sound too. Within two minutes you can decide whether you’re up for this ride or not. Chorus hits and you can feel the crowd shoulder to shoulder swaying with the riff. Are you in? Let’s keep going. 

I honestly haven’t listened to Bush since ‘The Chemicals Between Us’ (which shocked me that it was more than 20 years ago!). What we have here is a damn heavy album, with some great melody, occasional loops and a ton of groove. ‘Slow Me’ gets straight down to it with a faster tempo after the vocal intro and some atmospheric ear candy on the verses. Chorus is classic Bush, Gavin singing his ass off and big-sounding guitars backing him up. ‘More Than Machines’ is a ball-busting barrage of riffs, with loops on the verses, but is seriously heavy. It’s a very modern-sounding song, far beyond the post-grunge label. Three songs in and there’s definitely a common thread to the guitars but each song is unique within the confines of heavy rock. Cool song, must add to your Best of 2022 playlist. 

The heaviness really stands out on ‘Human Sand’, despite the blips and bloops of the verses, it’s an almighty blues-infused metal riff. The chorus is very spiritual and kind of weird, but serves as a mantra and affirmation of belief in one’s power over tyranny. The social awareness runs through ‘Kiss Me I’m Dead’ too, with another tough groove. This one has a great vocal section for the final chorus and the lead guitar that runs through it is subtle but adds to the doom metal vibe. ‘Identity’ is much more a classic post-grunge rocker, faster tempo and a set of killer power chords. The acapella pre-chorus is fantastic as an attention grabber, which is good because some of it has started to sound the same. ‘Judas is a Riot’ actually has a touch of that late 90s alternative rock with the loud/soft dynamic, reminiscent of Smashing Pumpkins circa Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

Don’t worry though, it’s not all heavy. ‘Creatures of the Fire’ is a cool ballad, even a bit cheesy with the backing vocals, but for fans of ‘Glycerine’ this is a cool moment with loops and a simple guitar line with Rossdale in croon mode. There’s also the drum and bass intro to ‘May Your Love Be Pure’, a cheesy title but a deep groove for ass shaking. Probably the best chorus on the album that is pretty horny too. ‘Shark Bite’ picks up the theme and runs with it, the violence implied by the title having an air of BDSM and romance to it. His personal life has often been tabloid fodder so it’s cool we get moments of desire and fire, stuff that feels reflective of his worldview. ‘Gunfight’ feels somewhat personal too, without being too explicit, as there’s an introspection and pain in his voice. ‘1000 Years’ is heavy on the drum loops and effects, with a slower tempo and an almost prog-rock grandeur to it. Again, fans of their slower moments will probably enjoy this more than the louder, more aggressive moments.  

Bush aren’t going to get back to the big island of relevancy, but are carving out their place as a longstanding band with lots to say musically and lyrically. This album deserves your attention. Fans of big arena-ready heavy riffs will dig it, for the most part, it is just cool guitar parts, bass lines and massive hooks to sing along with. As the recent Woodstock ‘99 doco highlighted, Bush can command an audience of non-believers with a crisp coolness that almost understates how damn heavy they can be. Maybe 12 tracks is a touch too many for a modern listener but, as a whole, there is some variation and a high standard that is worthy of their past hits.

Is it relevant to the wider opinion of what is popular and trend-setting? Probably not. Is it good? Absolutely yes. 

Bush – The Art of Survival tracklisting

  1. Heavy Is The Ocean
  2. Slow Me
  3. More Than Machines
  4. May Your Love Be Pure
  5. Shark Bite
  6. Human Sand
  7. Kiss Me I’m Dead
  8. Identity
  9. Creatures of the Fire
  10. Judas Is A Riot
  11. Gunfight
  12. 1000 Years 

Score: 7.5 / 10
The Art of Survival is out October 7, 2022 on BMG. Pre-Order here.
Review by KJ Draven (Twitter and Instagram

Check out our interview with frontman Gavin Rossdale here

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